Wedding Gift Etiquette for Guests

By Sara Margulis, CEO & Founder

Wedding Gift Etiquette:
Navigating the Dos and Don'ts for Guests

If you've ever received a wedding invitation in your mailbox, you've probably wondered: Do I need to give a gift? How much should I spend on the gift? What if I'm already splurging on travel or have spent money on pre-wedding celebrations?

We get it — these questions can be more puzzling than figuring out the dress code. Here at Honeyfund, we're all about demystifying wedding gifts — because let's face it, we're pros at this. So, we're sharing our top tips on wedding gift etiquette.

First Things First: Stick to the Registry

One golden rule in the wedding gift game — always pick something from the couple's gift registry. It's like they've dropped a cheat sheet of everything they want and need. Their gift registry will likely include a range of cash funds, home essentials, and more. Shopping off-registry is a gamble — you might end up giving them their fifth blender. So do yourself (and them) a favor, and always shop from their registry.

Spend What Feels Right: Your Wallet, Your Rules

When it comes to wedding gift etiquette, remember there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Your decision should be based on what feels right and what your budget allows. Here's a little guidance to help you figure it out:

Consult your budget: It's important to know what you can realistically afford before deciding on a gift. Your financial well-being should come first.

Average Gift Amounts: As a point of reference, Honeyfund gifts average around $150. This can give you a ballpark figure, but remember, your gift should align with what you're comfortable spending.

Relationship with the Couple: The closer you are to the couple, the more you might choose to spend. Gifts for close friends or family might be on the higher end, while gifts for coworkers or acquaintances can be more modest.

Reciprocation: If the couple has previously given you a wedding gift, you might use that as a guideline. However, it's not necessary to match the amount exactly — stay within what's comfortable for you.

Pre-Wedding and Travel Expenses: If you've incurred significant expenses to attend the wedding or participate in pre-wedding festivities, it's generally understood that your gift may be less substantial. Most couples will appreciate the effort and expense you've already undertaken.

Bringing a Plus-One: Adding a bit extra to your gift as a nod to your guest's attendance is a thoughtful reflection of wedding gift etiquette. No need to double down, just a little extra sprinkle. Ultimately, how much extra you decide to add should still fit within your budget and reflect your relationship with the couple.

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Timing is Everything: When to Send Wedding Gifts

The Traditional Window for Wedding Gifts

It's a common belief rooted in wedding gift etiquette that friends and family have up to a year after the wedding to send a gift. This tradition offers flexibility and understanding, acknowledging that guests may need time due to various circumstances. However, while this one-year grace period is widely accepted, the landscape of wedding gift-giving has evolved, leading to a preference for a more prompt gesture.

Why Sooner is Better

Sending your wedding gift sooner rather than later has several advantages:

Immediate Appreciation: Early gifts contribute to the excitement and joy surrounding the couple's new chapter, allowing them to appreciate your thoughtfulness as part of the broader wedding celebration.

Practicality for the Couple: Early gifts, especially those contributed to a Honeyfund or similar registry, can be incredibly beneficial for couples planning their honeymoon or setting up their home together shortly after the wedding.

Avoiding Forgetfulness: Sending your gift promptly ensures you don't accidentally forget to do so amidst your busy schedule, preventing any potential awkwardness down the line.

The Recommended Time Frame

While the traditional rule allows for a year, wedding etiquette experts now suggest a more contemporary approach:

Before the Wedding: Contributing to a couple's Honeyfund or sending a gift in the month leading up to the wedding date is becoming increasingly common and is highly appreciated. It allows couples to plan their post-wedding finances with a clearer picture of their gifts.

Within Three Months After: If sending a gift before the wedding isn't possible, aim to send your gift within three months after the wedding. This time frame strikes a balance between giving yourself enough time to choose a thoughtful gift and acknowledging the couple's new life together in a timely manner.

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To Ship or Not to Ship

When deciding whether to ship a gift directly or bring it to the wedding, consider a few key points of wedding gift etiquette for guests' gifts:

Pre-Wedding Contribution: If possible, sending your gift ahead of the wedding or contributing to the couple's Honeyfund before the event is highly recommended. This minimizes logistical stress for the couple on their wedding day, especially for destination weddings where transporting gifts can be cumbersome.

Day-Of Gifts: If you prefer to bring a gift to the wedding, check if there's a designated area for gifts. Some couples may have arrangements to collect gifts at the venue. However, be mindful that transporting gifts from the venue adds an extra task for the couple or their family.

Shipping Directly: For convenience and to ensure the couple does not have to worry about the safety and transport of gifts, consider shipping the gift directly to their home. This method is becoming increasingly preferred, as it allows couples to receive and manage gifts in a more organized manner. Most registries will list the couple's preferred address to have the gifts sent to.

For guests invited to a reception only, or those who receive a wedding announcement without an invitation to the event, remember that giving a gift is optional but can be a nice gesture to acknowledge the couple's special moment.

By sticking to these friendly pointers on wedding gift etiquette, you ensure your gift-giving is both thoughtful and considerate, adding to the joy and love of the couple's special moment.

Can't Make it to the Wedding? No Problem!

Not being able to attend doesn't mean you can't spread a little love. Wedding gift etiquette suggests that sending a gift is a thoughtful gesture, even if you're unable to attend the wedding. It's a way to celebrate the couple's new journey together and show your support despite your absence. Opting for shipping a gift directly to their home or contributing to a Honeyfund registry are excellent ways to express your well-wishes.

Looking For a Couple's Honeyfund Registry?

Using Honeyfund means easily giving a truly unique wedding gift. Find a registered couple here and discover their perfect gift!

More questions about wedding registry etiquette? Check out Etiquette FAQs, How to Ask for Cash Instead of Gifts, and Wedding Registry Wording.